The Australian Open will be without Japanese star Kei Nishikori this month after he pulled out of the year's opening grand slam because of a wrist injury.
Nishikori's withdrawal was confirmed on Thursday amid uncertainty over superstar trio Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal for the tournament at Melbourne Park, where 19-time slam winner Roger Federer is defending champion.
A three-time Australian Open quarter-finalist, former world number four Nishikori - now ranked 22nd - has been sidelined since August after ending his 2017 season early due to the right wrist injury.
In a tweet posted by the Australian Open, Nishikori said: "The Aussie Open is my favourite Slam...it's my 'home' Slam...and it hurts that I will miss this year."
Unfortunately @keinishikori has withdrawn from the #AusOpen.-- #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 3, 2018
"The Aussie Open is my favorite Slam...it's my 'home' Slam...and it hurts that I will miss this year."
All the best, Kei, see you next year
The 27-year-old and 2014 US Open finalist will sit out back-to-back slams, having made 21 consecutive appearances in majors prior to missing Flushing Meadows.
Nishikori ended 2017 with a 30-13 win-loss record and two runner-up finishes in Brisbane and Buenos Aires.